Ahead of the Budget Statement on 11 March 2020, ARCH and the National
Federation of ALMOs (NFA) have come together to make the case for
council housing in a joint budget submission to the Treasury.
Our joint Budget submission builds on our 2019 Spending Review Submission "Social
Housing We Can All Be Proud Of" and focusses on the key changes in
the policy environment since the election of the new Conservative
Government, and their implications, and on new evidence relevant to
our case for investment in a new generation of council housing.
In the last decade, councils and ALMOs have started to build on
a small but growing scale. We have evidence that this trend has
accelerated since the abolition of Housing Revenue Account (HRA)
borrowing caps in October 2018. In January this year, we published
the results of a joint
CIH-NFA-ARCH survey looking at the impact of the lifting of HRA
borrowing caps and reviewing the building plans of a
sample of 22 stock-owning councils including 5 London boroughs,
large cities in the Midlands and North, and several medium and
smaller authorities. We argue both in that report and in our
Budget submission that the Government can and should do more to
support the need for more social housing.
Alongside the Queen's Speech, the new Government made a
commitment to build" hundreds of thousands of new homes for a range
of people in different places", a commitment we welcome and
The economic case for investment in social housing is strong and
was set out in detail in our Spending Review submission. In our
Budget submission we supplement that case by arguing that an
increased supply of council housing is essential to the achievement
of the new Government's aim to end rough sleeping within five years
and to eliminate the use of often unsatisfactory privately-provided
temporary accommodation for households accepted as homeless by
local authorities, currently costing £1.1 billion a year.
The Government has also promised to tackle the issue of social
care and in our Budget submission we argue that an increased supply
of suitable council housing would also help reduce pressure on NHS
beds and expenditure by providing for patients who no longer need
hospital care but cannot be discharged to inadequate or insanitary
housing. Provision of supported housing and extra-care housing
schemes would also reduce the pressure on social care budgets.
We also welcome the Government's confirmation, at the time of
the Queen's Speech, that it will publish a White Paper on Social
Housing, taking forward the issues covered in the Green Paper "A
New Deal for Social Housing", published in Summer 2018. The Queen's
Speech also announced two Bills on Fire Safety and Building Safety,
to take forward the conclusions of the Hackett Review and the
outcome of Phase 1 of the Grenfell Inquiry. There is not yet
sufficient detail on any of these to attempt a costing of their
implications for local authority housing, other than to note that
they are likely to be very substantial. In our Budget Submission,
we argue that it is unlikely that local authorities will be able to
resource the necessary investment and management reforms within
current business plan envelopes without compromising other
In May 2019, an environment and climate emergency was declared
by Parliament, supported by MPs from all major parties. Many local
authorities have followed this lead by declaring their own climate
emergencies and Government have set a target of net zero carbon
emissions by 2050 at a national level. ARCH and the NFA agree that,
as a route to help achieve this target, the Decent Homes Standard
needs to be updated and extended, among other things to include
improved requirements for energy efficiency.
We welcome the ambition of the zero-carbon emissions target and
believe that social housing providers are well-placed to help
achieve significant carbon emission reductions through wholesale
retrofitting of existing social housing and ensuring new homes are
built to the highest standards possible. However, any retrofitting
will have significant financial implications and the Government
needs to work with local authority landlords to develop appropriate
strategies (and funding) to achieve net zero carbon target by
It is not just housing policy that can help alleviate rough
sleeping and homelessness but welfare policies too and the ARCH/NFA Annual Welfare Reform Survey
of members demonstrates the impact that the rollout of Universal
Credit has had on our members and tenants and we underpin some of
the recommendations in that report in our Budget submission.
In summary, the key asks set out in our Budget submission
Council House Building
- To invest in social rented housing, increase grant levels and
the total grant available to build new social rented homes.
- Continue to support a council housing renaissance allowing
local authority control over the self-financing HRA.
- Reform right to buy to ensure one-for-one replacement and an
equitable and sustainable home ownership offer for council tenants
into the future.
Building and Fire Safety
- The Government to work closely with local authorities and ALMOs
to establish any costs that may be incurred by changes in building
safety legislation and ensure that these are covered by central
Tackling Climate Change
- Strategies to be developed to help property owners and managers
meet the 2050 zero-carbon target, with the provision of seed
funding where necessary.
- Improved energy efficiency and increased use of renewable
energy to be part of any Decent Homes Standard.
- Alignment between a new DHS and the Clean Growth Strategy
bringing all social homes up to an EPC Band C by 2030.
Improving the welfare system and tackling
- Removing the five-week wait for Universal Credit and paying the
benefit at the beginning of the claim.
- Making improvements to the "APA" system.
- Funding effective on-going support for claimants, including
advice on debt management and personal budgeting.
- Restoring Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th
percentile of local rents again to ensure that low income
households can access and remain in private rented accommodation
where that is suitable.
Read the ARCH/NFA 2020 Budget